A number of John Howard’s mates have got seriously rich courtesy of his policies, but the stand-out performer has to be hospital and media entrepreneur Paul Ramsay.
This is how the 2006 BRW Rich List started its citation for Ramsay:
Paul Ramsay was well into his 60s by the time he made his first $100 million. It says a lot about the changes in Australia’s health system over the past decade that in the latest year, with private health care the focus of ever-growing investor attention, his wealth increased by $180 million to $810 million.
Paul Ramsay, Fortescue Metals boss Andrew Forrest and controversial retail hard man Solomon Lew are the three certainties who BRW will declare as new billionaires in 2007.
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Ramsay will become Australia’s most government-dependent billionaire because he’s also had a tidy pay day courtesy of the new media ownership laws.
Ramsay owns 40% of Seven Network affiliate Prime TV which has seen its share price rise from $2.50 to $3.90 since the 2004 Federal election delivered John Howard senate control.
But the real upside has come from Ramsay’s 42.5% stake in Australia’s biggest hospital company, Ramsay Healthcare, which has sucked on the teat of massively increased handouts and subsidies to see its share price go from 80c to $11.51 over the past seven years.
Receiving an ACCC green light to buy many of the old Mayne Nickless hospitals and integrating them well has seen Ramsay’s hospital play blossom into a $900 million investment, so it’s no surprise that his companies have donated more than $1 million to the Liberal Party over the past decade.
Indeed, The AFR reported yesterday that the Liberals failed to properly report a $63,000 donation from Ramsay’s interests in 2004-05. It will be interesting to see how prominent the PM’s billionaire golfing buddy is in the 2005-06 figures which will be released on Thursday.